In American Sign Language we use sign names for people, places, etc. instead of having to fingerspell those things all the time. Some sign names are common, such as 'Daddy,' 'Mama,' 'Portland,' and the like. Other sign names are very specific to a person, for example we have a friend named Tom who has a sign name, but if we have another friend named Tom, we do NOT use the same sign name for that Tom. We'll either fingerspell it or use his own, specific sign name for that Tom.
Jake has by now grasped the concept of sign names. He knows our friend Tom's sign name, as well as Sara's, Corky's, Skylar's, his own, and other friend's, and he uses them.
Jake is also very into Thomas the train engines and loves to watch the DVDs and play with the trains. A few weeks ago we were astonished to discover that Jake had come up with his own sign names for 2 of the trains -- all on his own!! Thomas the train gets 2 pats on the chest, and Gordon the engine gets 2 taps on the forehead with a flat hand. We have NO idea how he came up with these, but he did. So impressive.